BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — On another brilliant day of golf, Rory McIlroy ran away with the U.S. Open title, winning by eight shots and breaking the tournament scoring record by a whopping four strokes.McIlroy shot 2-under 69 Sunday to close the four days at Congressional at 16-under 268, shattering a U.S. Open scoring record held by four players, including Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Jason Day finished at 8 under, good for second place in his second straight major.
Two months ago, McIlroy blew a four-shot lead on the last day at the Masters. But there was never any sign of a crack in this one.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland started the day with an eight-shot lead and it never got lower. He became the third player in U.S. Open history to break 70 in all four rounds.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Rory McIlroy remained in full control Sunday, carrying a nine-shot lead into the last three holes in his quest for the U.S. Open title.
In search of his first major, McIlroy showed no signs of a collapse Sunday similar to the meltdown at the Masters, where he blew a four-stroke lead and shot 80.
On No. 10 at Congressional, McIlroy hit his shot to above the hole on the downhill par-3, then watched it spin back, stopping only an inch or two from going in. The birdie pushed McIlroy to 17 under for the tournament, in range of the lowest score under par at any major — the record of 19 under was set by Tiger Woods at St. Andrews in 2000.
McIlroy gave back a stroke on No. 12, but still led Y.E. Yang and Jason Day by nine with three holes left. Kevin Chappell and Sergio Garcia were another shot behind.
Before this week, no player had even been lower than 12-under par at the U.S. Open. McIlroy got to 13 under on Friday, 14 under on Saturday and took that mark another three shots lower at one point Sunday.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland needed to shoot 1-over 72 or better to break the 72-hole scoring record at the Open, held by four men, including Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
Players who teed off early were coming off the course and the topic was, of course, McIlroy.
“As I’ve said before, I think he has probably the most talent I’ve ever seen from a golfer,” said Luke Donald, the top-ranked player in the world, after finishing at 5-over par. “Lovely to watch him play, such a fluid motion, and he hits it far.”
Said Phil Mickelson: “You can tell that Rory has had this type of talent in him for some time now, and to see him putting it together is pretty neat to see.” He finished with a 71 on Sunday that left him 7 over.
On a muggy, overcast day at Congressional, there were more low scores to be had. The Blue Course has been taking a beating despite measuring 7,574 yards — second longest in U.S. Open history.
“It’s not really a U.S. Open golf course, to be honest,” Martin Kaymer said. “It plays softer. You have birdie chances the first nine.”
Among those taking advantage were South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae, Johan Edfors and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, each of whom posted 4-under 67. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shot 5-under 66.
They were all playing for second.
“He’s a player with tremendous potential, and winning fulfils that potential and makes it easier to keep going,” Padraig Harrington said, referring to McIlroy, after a round of 73 put him at 5 over.
With three holes left, McIlroy had hit 60 of 69 greens in regulation.
He started early in the final round, hitting his approach shot to 6 feet on No. 1 and to near tap-in range on the fourth hole to move to 16-under. He made a 12-foot putt on No. 5 to save par after driving his ball into a bunker. On the par-5 sixth, he chunked his third shot but it cleared the water and landed safely on the green, where he made par.
He didn’t give a stroke back to par until No. 12 but it was only his third over the entire tournament — including his double bogey on No. 18 on Friday and a bogey on the 10th in the third round.
He was on the verge of becoming Northern Ireland’s second straight U.S. Open champion. His countryman, Graeme McDowell is one of McIlroy’s biggest fans.
“Nothing this kid does ever surprises me,” McDowell said. “He’s the best player I’ve ever seen.”
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